Did you know
that the highly acclaimed Le Cordon Bleu Cooking School
that was founded in Paris, France in 1895 takes its name from a
16th Century Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit
and the blue ribbon on the medal that identified their loyal and
often royal well-fed members?
Well known for their lavish feasts
the members became better known as ‘Le Cordon Bleu’ -the Blue
Ribbons and their gatherings quite literally became ‘Blue
Ribbon’ or of the best quality which is where we get our Blue
Ribbon standard today. So the next time you take first place in
any event and someone holding a camera says ‘cheese’ insist on
Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
the English romantic artist and poet, was at such a dramatic
loss when his beloved wife, Elizabeth died that he took his
unpublished poems, carefully wrapped them and lovingly placed
them in her coffin.
Did you know that a number of
years or so later Rossetti had the coffin dug up, retrieved the
poems, dusted them off and had them published?
Ah, writer’s block!
And speaking of love recovered…when
the English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelly drowned while
sailing off the coast of Italy in 1822 and his body later
recovered his heart was removed as a keepsake for his wife,
Mary. Then it was considered a custom of the day. Of course,
there might have been something more as Mary Shelly was the
author of the work, The Modern Prometheus, better known
Cat got your tongue? For
the British author Thomas Hardy it was his wish to be buried
with his beloved wife after he passed on. Although, after he did
expire it was decided that he should be entombed in Westminster
Abby along with other esteemed English notables. To fulfill the
spirit of his dying request his heart was removed so it could be
taken to his wife’s gravesite and added to her remains.
However, before it could happen, a
cat,…well, a cat ate it.
However, did you An eyeful
on the tower. In 1925 the French government was seriously
considering dismantling the Eiffel Tower which is why the
‘Deputy Director of the Ministere des Postes et des Telegraphes’
Victor Lustig sent out bids to scrap iron companies for the tall
A non-too ethical Lustig though
took a bribe from one of the competing companies to get their
bid accepted and once the (all ready favored) decision was made,
and the check for the hefty first installment was accepted and
cashed, work was ready to begin.
The trouble was Victor Lustig
wasn’t the ‘Deputy Director of the Ministere des Postes et des
Telegraphes’ nor did he work for the French government, who by
the way hadn’t decided to scrap the great tower. However, by the
time the hoax was found out both Lustig, the enterprising con
man, and the money were long gone.
Encore, si’l vous
After the dust had settled, Lustig,
who had carried out other scams in Havana, Cuba and New York,
returned to France and tried once again to sell the famed Paris
landmark. The second plan wasn’t as successful as the first and
Lustig with no money and only an eye full of get rich quick
schemes managed to escape just ahead of the police. It has been
said that incompetent thieves take part in scams while competent
thieves take part in politics. I disagree.
I suspect that some politicians
are incompetent thieves as well.
Small world, busy family?
Did you know that in his book Native Tongues renowned
linguist, Charles Berlitz wrote that there are at least 2,796
languages in the world today that are divided into twelve major
family groups and fifty lesser ones?
Did you also know that the French
Existentialist Jean Paul Sartre’s grandfather was the man who
developed the language learning method or that Sartre’s first
cousin was the Nobel Prize winner, Doctor Albert Schweitzer?
When a much shaken battlefield
commander General Sir William Beresford wrote up his
account of the Battle of Albuera, Portugal that occurred on 16
May 1811 and presented it to his commander, Lord Wellington, the
Duke was so appalled by the staggering number of friendly
casualties and loss (half of the 7,000 man forces were either
killed, wounded, captured or unfit for duty afterwards) that he
was reported to have told Beresford: ‘This will not do. Write me
The account was changed and
Beresford was cited with a ‘victory’ even though the engagement
ended inconclusively. Good thing leaders today don’t manipulate
battlefield conflict for their own political ends otherwise
you’d think we never learned anything from history.
Are you aware that the
melody for ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ came from a popular
British drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven, that was
first published in England in 1778?
The melody was later matched up
with the 1814 poem, ‘Defense of Fort McHenry’ by Francis Scott
Key (later re-titled ‘The Star Spangled Banner’). It wasn’t
until 1931 when it officially became the national anthem of the
A drinking song, huh? This might
explain why it is played at sports venues where drinking is high
on the list of pre-game, game time, and post game activities.
While patriotism could be another plausible answer it isn’t all
that convincing at times when many of those singing along in the
stands beside me stumble over the lyrics or think that it ends
with the phrase, ‘Play ball!’
And finally, did you know
that the nursery rhyme ‘London Bridge is falling down…falling
down…’ has its origin in the 10th century when
marauding Vikings actually did pull down the London Bridge?
However, I don’t believe my ancestors were singing the ditty at
the time. Drunken humming perhaps…
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